Here are the 11 finalists for two San Jose council seats
San Jose City Hall is located at 200 E. Santa Clara St. Photo by Jana Kadah.

    A list of nearly 40 people competing to fill two San Jose City Council seats is down to just 11.

    The top contenders were named late Friday after current councilmembers voted for their top choices. The two seats are open in Districts 8 and 10 after two former councilmembers won their bids for higher office in November: Mayor Matt Mahan, who served in District 10 for just two years, and Supervisor Sylvia Arenas, who held her District 8 seat for six years. District 8 covers East San Jose and the Evergreen area and District 10 encompasses Almaden Valley and the Blossom Hill communities.

    The finalists in District 8 are: Patricia Andrade, Salvador Alvarez, Sukhdev Bainiwal, Domingo Candelas and Tam Truong. In District 10, the ones who made the cut were: Ron Del Pozzo, Arjun Batra, George Casey, Wendi Mahaney-Gurahoo, Dennis Hawkins and J. David Heindel.

    After public interviews, the city council will appoint a District 8 representative at 3 p.m. on Jan. 24. They will pick the District 10 councilmember two days later at 3 p.m. on Jan. 26.

    Here’s a little about each candidate:

    District 8:

    Andrade: She is the Evergreen School District Board president and worked as a community relations staffer for Arenas, the district’s previous councilmember. She is rumored to be Arenas’ handpicked successor. Andrade previously told San José Spotlight she’s the best pick to replace Arenas because she knows the inner workings of government. “Being familiar with the priorities specific to each neighborhood will allow me to distribute resources through an equity lens and safeguard the needs of our communities,” she said in her application.

    Alvarez:  He is an executive analyst in the city’s Office of Economic Development, said he jumped into the District 8 competition to bring more services to the Evergreen area where he was born and raised. His father was a civil rights leader with United Farm Workers and his mother is a former Evergreen School District trustee. “I feel my life has prepared me for this challenge and I would like to serve my district and my city so that future generations can have access to a great education, jobs, housing and quality of life,” he said.

    Bainiwal: He is a Sikh community leader and a former San Jose airport commissioner. He came to the U.S. when he was 11 years old and earned engineering degrees. “Serving humanity is a trait instilled in me from childhood; I believe everyone deserves a good quality of life,” he wrote in his application.

    Candelas: He is the director of Local Government Affairs at Stanford University and previously worked for former Sen. Jim Beall and Valley Water. Candelas said he’s worked on bills to provide funding for transportation projects and road repairs, as well as legislation to allocate funding for affordable housing. “I intend to bring my experience of bringing many voices to the table and bridging the collaboration gap to ensure cohesion and get things done with accountability and performance standards,” he said.

    Truong: He is a sergeant in the San Jose Police Department and has won early support from prominent Vietnamese leaders hoping to expand representation on the council. He went to public schools in the district and is raising his two kids there. “Having been a public servant my entire career, I’ve built relationships with countless individuals, families, community groups, business owners, and government offices,” he wrote in his application.

    Read the full applications for District 8 finalists here.

    District 10:

    Del Pozzo: He is a retired Santa Clara County Superior Court judge who has been involved in Rotary and Kiwanis clubs as well as the Boys & Girls Club, Italian American Heritage Foundation and the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. He said the biggest challenge facing the city is improving public safety, and his goal is to bolster basic services in District 10. “Police officers, firefighters and paramedics need to be hired immediately to ensure the safety and security of District 10 and all San Jose residents,” he said.

    Batra: He is a retired tech worker who served in various leadership roles at IBM and Intel Corporation. Batra has served on various city committees, including those that oversee tax measure spending and smart city initiatives. He believes homelessness is the biggest challenge facing the city. “While homelessness is a complex problem, addressing this issue is critical for the future of San Jose,” he wrote in his application.

    Casey: He’s an attorney who works as the director of corporate counsel at Unlock Technologies, Inc. and serves on the San Jose Planning Commission. Casey has lived in the district since 1979. “I believe my background as an attorney provides the academic and professional experience suitable to help formulate citywide policy, adopt laws/ordinances, and approve budgets,” he said.

    Mahaney-Gurahoo: She is a community impact leader who serves as the vice president of the San Jose Unified School District Board of Education. Mahaney-Gurahoo, who previously worked for FIRST 5 Santa Clara County, wants to prioritize improving the quality of life for San Jose residents, alleviating homelessness and bolstering public safety. “I am passionate about good government, transparency, and increasing civic engagement,” she said in her application.

    Hawkins: He is retired after serving as San Jose’s former city clerk. He also served 24 years as a member of the Oak Grove School District Board of Trustees. He believes public safety and providing essential public services should be a top priority for the next District 10 councilmember. “We cannot expect improvement in the delivery of basic city services without solving the city’s chronic inability to recruit, train, and retain employees in all job classifications,” he said.

    Heindel: He is the owner of Hotworx, a 24-hour infrared fitness studio and gym. For the past decade he’s served on the District 10 Leadership Coalition, which Heindel says helped him deeply understand the challenges facing the city. “My intent in serving as District 10 council representative is foremost to listen to all District residents and then work with my fellow council members to address pressing issues in District 10 as well as citywide,” he said.

    Read the full applications for District 10 finalists here.

    In one of the most controversial decisions in recent city history, the San Jose City Council voted in December to appoint successors to the two open seats despite hundreds of outspoken residents demanding a special election. The two appointees could determine the power balance on the divided council — currently dominated by labor-backed councilmembers. Mahan, a first-term mayor aligned with business interests, must work to build a coalition with an unfriendly council to move his agenda forward. The majority of the council supported his opponent.

    The 11 finalists received the most support from councilmembers, but City Clerk Toni Taber would not say how many votes they received or which councilmember supported them. She said the information is legally exempt from disclosure because it reveals the deliberations of government officials.

    Comment Policy (updated 11/1/2021): We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by administrators.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.